Rosie is a Senior Engineer – Dams and Hydropower for SMEC. Rosie’s philosophy of “saying yes” has led to working on a diverse range of projects across Queensland, Victoria, Fiji, Kuala Lumpur and now Cooma to work on Snowy 2.0.
After graduating with honours from The University of Queensland Rosie has gained experience as a geotechnical/civil engineer involved in highway, tunnel & solar field projects working on foundation design, reinforced soil walls, slope stability & construction surveillance. She then moved into the Dams and Hydropower sector where she has worked on investigation, design and construction on embankment dams, run of river hydro and pumped storage hydropower.
This is a “close” copy of the words that were spoken during the Podcast, Season 4 Episode 19
It is not 100% accurate.
The guest was Rosie Mosely
Rosie: [00:00:00] I must admit I didn’t really enjoy studying engineering but I really like working as an engineer So I’m very glad I became an engineer
[00:00:05]Mel or Dom: [00:00:05] it’s a tough gig for anyone out there Who’s looking to do it. They were some very long years of study that’s for sure with engineering but when you get at the other end it’s definitely worth all the years of study that’s for sure
[00:00:18] Rosie: [00:00:18] It’s a lot more fun Yeah
[00:00:19]Mel or Dom: [00:00:19] once you actually get out there and doing stuff it’s always a lot more fun. So did you have any other introduction to it or is it just pretty much following in your brother’s footsteps
[00:00:27]Rosie: [00:00:27] basically now I mean my my my dad’s an artist and he’s advice was don’t be an artist. So I became an engineer
[00:00:40]Mel or Dom: [00:00:40] So where did you go to uni?
[00:00:41]Rosie: [00:00:41] I started in Sydney at UNSW and then halfway through I moved to UQ in Brisbane .All my friends lived in Queensland and they were like come to Brisbane, so I did.
[00:00:51]Mel or Dom: [00:00:52] So after you finished your degree, what was the first project that you worked on?
[00:00:55]Rosie: [00:00:55] So, it was in Brisbane which was cool. was a rail overpass Robinson road. And I was doing these reinforced soil walls. the main thing I loved about it was cause it was in Brisbane, when the project was finished and they had the opening day I got to take my parents and walk them across and show them what I was working on, And that was really cool I really enjoyed that
[00:01:15] Mel or Dom: [00:01:15] And do you still whenever you go past, it’s like I built that bridge That was my that’s my bridge
[00:01:20] Rosie: [00:01:20] Definitely Yep And so did it a few more things in Brisbane. So you know mum likes to call me when she drives through my tunnel and over my bridge.
[00:01:31] Mel or Dom: [00:01:31] That’s So what did you actually do on that job?
[00:01:35] Rosie: [00:01:35] So I was in the geo-tech team so the does these reinforced soil walls, that kind of lead up the the abutments of the bridge I guess So I did the design for them, the geo-tech design
[00:01:45]Mel or Dom: [00:01:45] And was that a pretty good job coming straight out of the gates, or was it in the deep end or how did you feel?
[00:01:53] Rosie: [00:01:53] Yeah In hindsight like it’s a pretty cool thing to get to be to do. And the senior engineer I was working for he did just kind of let me dive in here you know just give it a crack and we’ll fix it if you get it wrong sort of thing
[00:02:09] Mel or Dom: [00:02:09] It’s still standing So you obviously did the right thing there
[00:02:11]Rosie: [00:02:11] yep Well I was probably a tad conservative, being my first project but I can sleep easy
[00:02:19] Mel or Dom: [00:02:19] Yeah so you’ve come a long way from building bridges in Brisbane to actually working where you are now So do you wanna tell us a little bit about where you are?
[00:02:29] Rosie: [00:02:29] Yeah So I mean I’m in Cooma at the moment. On snowy 2. I stayed in Brisbane for a few years but I said yes to a lot of opportunities, which I got to go to Fiji and then I moved to Melbourne And then when I was in Melbourne and my manager said, “Do you want to come work in Cooma?” And I was like “Yes!” it was meant to be for three weeks. It’s been three and a half years now I think so but yeah I’m absolutely loving it. The project here, the work is technically probably the most exciting project I have worked on and hopefully not ever work on but it’s likely.
[00:03:00] Mel or Dom: [00:03:00] You’re with SMEC – have you worked with that company from the beginning
[00:03:05]Rosie: [00:03:05] with SMEC Yeah So that was in Brisbane
[00:03:07] Mel or Dom: [00:03:07] And so they moved you to Fiji and all those other places you were saying
[00:03:11] Rosie: [00:03:11] yeah. Their company that does offer I guess dams and hydro which not a lot of companies in Australia offer those sorts of opportunities and international work which is I guess what attracted me to the company and why I’ve stuck with them so long. They sent me to Fiji and I’ve been to KL with them as well which is pretty exciting. They moved me to Melbourne when I wanted to go join the dams and hydro team. So still working for them but I’m seconded to Snowy, so I’m part of the owner’s team for Snowy 2.0
[00:03:37]Mel or Dom: [00:03:37] So do you want to tell us a little bit about 2.0 that you’re working on
[00:03:42]Rosie: [00:03:42] So when I came it was 2017 and we were a feasibility study and our company SMEC does have a history in the Cooma area. So So I started in the drilling I was actually meant to be Drilling the first hole on the project I was going to be the geo-tech supervising that. And I actually missed the first day So I didn’t get to drill the first hole first day but then I was on for a couple of days on the hole that was over a kilometer deep So that’s pretty cool You don’t get to do that every day. So that’s I started in the Geo-Tech and then I went into the design of the feasibility side and I worked on the intakes, which were pretty big structures big cuts, which is pretty exciting. And then I worked a bit with the tunnels team which was pretty exciting, learnt a lot there.
[00:04:21]Mel or Dom: [00:04:21] what are you actually working on now
[00:04:23]Rosie: [00:04:23] I’m helping out with a substation. So TransGrid is going to be building us a substation which will provide power to the project site. There’s a transmission line that just conveniently runs through the project site. so we were able to just tap into that line and supply the area with power. I’m helping managing that at the moment. That’s my thing
[00:04:44]Mel or Dom: [00:04:44] So these are the pre works needed to before you really kick off the construction of 2.0
[00:04:50]Rosie: [00:04:50] Yeah So, mean we’re in the exploratory phase at the moment.
[00:04:53] Mel or Dom: [00:04:53] we actually visited the Snowy Hydro Discovery Center just recently. And it was amazing that had some great interactive things going on in there. And To see where 2.0 is going to be, and the work that hasn’t started yet, as you were saying, it hasn’t started yet, but all the pre-work is happening and it’s very exciting for such a mammoth groundbreaking scheme to have a revisit like this. That’s quite huge. So it’s a very exciting project that you’re working on.
[00:05:21]Rosie: [00:05:21] you can definitely feel that in the team , there is a lot of excitement and it does fuel the team, I think.
[00:05:26] I guess I’ve noticed in my own career in recent years is how much engineering doesn’t seem to be about engineering as much anymore. Yeah. engineers are not just solving engineering problems anymore. It seems to be all these other issues that we’re having to learn to work with, like safety or visual amenity. the environment’s a big one. publicity, even some legal issues, you know, they can be social and political issues that we need to learn to balance alongside the engineering solutions.
[00:05:58]And I guess, cause a lot of the time project manager engineers, they’re the ones that are having to learn to take a more holistic approach and balance these issues, I guess. you do start to wonder, is that just because I’m new to these responsibilities and this is what everyone’s been doing, but then you talk to a lot of senior engineers and it doesn’t seem that they’re used to doing this as much.
[00:06:17] So they’re used to more focusing just purely on the engineering and the math. But now we’re getting all these new challenges, which is kind of exciting, having to learn to think outside your comfort zone and work with people that aren’t engineers for me, that that’s one of the things I’ve been noticing recently is it’s its own challenge to deal with and work with people that are not engineers.
[00:06:38]they don’t think like we do. they have different processes and even just trying to Yeah, work out what their priorities are and how they communicate. I think engineers think in their own special way. So yeah, that can be another side of the challenge is learning how to work with people that are not engineers.
[00:06:54] Does that make sense?
[00:06:56] Mel or Dom: [00:06:56] Yes, I’m going to say work with normal people.
[00:07:02] Rosie: [00:07:02] you could be right. You could be right.
[00:07:05] Mel or Dom: [00:07:05] We’ve always said engineering…. when you study engineering it teaches you a new mindset. And I think what Rosie’s just explained a little bit about is in the past, perhaps engineers have been happy to sit in their little bubbles and talk to other engineers in engineering lingo and just get the job done. Whereas now that bubble is bursting, expanding, it’s getting extra people in it. It’s being connected to other bubbles, and then suddenly you’re having to move grow and change and evolve as engineers. Is that what?…
[00:07:38] Yeah, I agree with you in so far as, years and years and years ago if you were engineering, you didn’t have to worry about the environment. Like what was that? There’s no problem with that. You just sort of do whatever you didn’t have to worry about.
[00:07:53] Rosie: [00:07:53] It’s a good thing that we are.
[00:07:55] Mel or Dom: [00:07:55] Well, it is, it is. I am. I’m saying yes, the environment is definately a good thing. No, no, but you’re exactly right. Some even community engagement. Yeah. We didn’t really have that either. It was a case of we’re building a bridge.
[00:08:08] You’ll enjoy it once it’s here. There wasn’t that same level of community engagement that there used to be. And it’s great that they have that now, but it has meant the engineers have really had to change their mindset to cater for all these additional inputs.
[00:08:20] Rosie: [00:08:20] Yeah. And a lot of those inputs, I think, because they’re not numbers, they’re not maths. Like you said, their community, they’re people, they don’t fit into our equations as neatly as we’d like.
[00:08:29] Mel or Dom: [00:08:29] Like I didn’t sign up for this at uni or what’s going on? are you finding that you’re only just coming to this realization as you’re moving up the corporate chain, so to speak.
[00:08:39] So previously you were happy to stay in your little bubble, but now you’re just noticing it or is it something that from day one, as a early engineer, it was already like that.
[00:08:51]Rosie: [00:08:51] I’m probably noticing it. In in recent years. Yeah. It’s, it’s hard to know. Is it just because I’m learning and growing as an engineer and becoming senior, and this is just the problems of a senior engineer or is it that engineering has changed?
[00:09:05] Mel or Dom: [00:09:05] I’m wondering if the engineering society is changing and evolving to be broader in that respect and more rounded.
[00:09:13]Rosie: [00:09:13] yeah, I think so.
[00:09:14] Mel or Dom: [00:09:14] I think that it is something that has changed. and I’ve seen it change. I’m making myself sound really old and I’m not that old. I have seen it change myself just in regards to when I started through to how it is now.
[00:09:27] And I think it’s going to change even more as time progresses. And I do think it is something that, as you career progresses you are more exposed to it because when at least when you start out you’re kind of getting the fundamentals down. it was almost not that we were shielded from it, but it was almost as though it fell into the hands of other professions or occupations.
[00:09:49] Whereas now it’s something that engineer’s are, it’s all encompassing for them. which is a great thing that, that has happened as well, because I think even though we like to say that we’re not good, the soft skills, I think we’re actually a lot better at them than we give ourselves credit for which only helps to develop our designs.
[00:10:06] And it helps to develop the innovation and the technology that needs to come through it, because then we have a better understanding about what the end client actually wants, as opposed to being told what the client wants by someone else who hasn’t really interpreted it the same way that we would.
[00:10:20]Rosie: [00:10:20] Yeah, get to be involved in the decision, I guess.
[00:10:22]Mel or Dom: [00:10:22] Yeah. I think it’s an important skill too, for engineers to gain because there’s a lot of talk in the past about engineers not being invited to that table, that mythical table that exists, where decisions are made and plans are set. And. Engineers are only finding out about it at the end, saying, here, go build this and go do that. engineers are now realizing that they need to be at the very front of the line when things are being solved and to do that, they need to start getting all those soft skills that you were mentioning.
[00:10:54] All those extra skills that are just outside of maths.
[00:10:58] Rosie: [00:10:58] Yeah. I like what you say about being at the table. Yeah. Getting involved in that decision, which is good cause then you can take it in a whole new direction . Not that engineers are the only ones that can do this, but we are very good at critical thinking and problem solving.
[00:11:11]it’s what we love to do. but it doesn’t just have to be math that we can solve, we can solve all those other problems. and like I said, we can bring that critical thinking and our processes that work so well in engineering to those other problems.
[00:11:23] Mel or Dom: [00:11:23] Do you enjoy that side of it? Do you find yourself as your career progresses, happily kind of moving away from the design and more into those engagement type roles?
[00:11:31]Rosie: [00:11:31] Yeah, I love the challenge. and you kind of fumbling around a bit at first, I think, cause it is new and it’s not always easy to see how other people have done it. Or see other examples to follow, whereas design, you know, you start a design of something, generally, there’s a standard that tells you exactly how to do it.
[00:11:48] And there’s a thousand spreadsheets that get shared around, or maybe not a thousand, but a bunch of spreadsheets that are shared around that, you know, step you through how to do it and, and guidance. But, these kinds of challenges you don’t get as much guidance, I guess.
[00:12:00] Mel or Dom: [00:12:00] So when you’re talking, one of the things I was thinking was as more people enter engineering, they start offering more to the industry.
[00:12:09]Rosie: [00:12:09] Yeah, I guess probably a lot of engineers that maybe we’re never going to be the technical expert, but have those other skills, find a place, find a role, find somewhere where they can bring some benefit which is good.
[00:12:22] Mel or Dom: [00:12:22] how do you progress somebody who is in it, just for the maths and the problem solving, how do you progress them into this wider bubble?
[00:12:32] Rosie: [00:12:32] good question. I mean, maybe you don’t, you know, that’s, that’s what they’re good at and you still need those people. you don’t want to lose that core focus from engineering, I guess.
[00:12:42] I mean, whether it’s something, you know, you change in the education, whether, you know, there’s a subject or to an, our degree that at least prepares us for this. You might, you might get people sticking around in engineering a bit longer.
[00:12:52] Cause I mean, I know it is a, it is a difficult subject if you know, there’s opportunities that aren’t just technical. and maybe we just have to learn to think differently as engineers, accept that our is not the only way.
[00:13:03] something of noticed on the snowy to project, Snowy Hydro is very good at is getting advice.
[00:13:09] And you really see that, I guess. So maybe get advice.
[00:13:13]Mel or Dom: [00:13:13] I think you really did hit the nail on the head there. When you said engineering isn’t engineering anymore. It’s more to it.
[00:13:20] And from the perspective of how is the industry responding? I think in a way there’s a natural response that’s happening in that there’s a real push to get more people into engineering. And as you get more people, you get a variety of other skill sets that come into it.
[00:13:35] So it’s not just about maths anymore, like it was in the past. You’re getting people that are just naturally expanding the skillset of engineers. And I think this is only going to help the connection with engineers back to society in that they realize that it’s not just the maths. It’s also understanding the story of engineers, because I think they lost their value to society in that society forgot how important engineers are. But the fact that more diverse people are in it, there’s a natural move to accepting that engineering is more than just engineering.
[00:14:15] Rosie: [00:14:15] More then just maths. I like that.
[00:14:16] Mel or Dom: [00:14:16] More than just maths, yeah. So what are your thoughts on the future of engineering?
[00:14:19]Rosie: [00:14:19] It’s all going very virtual, I reckon. which is probably not a new thought. but with COVID, I think it’s definitely exaggerated, which is good. We get to keep our jobs, because we can work online. I appreciate all the benefits of going virtual, but I like the physical and it’s sad to think that we might lose too much of it. being in Cooma it was really exciting to get to work because our company’s head offices in Cooma, well old head office, but it was this really interesting complex when we came in and, you know, it had this, a library and a hydraulics lab and a soil lab which none of our city offices have that. So it was great.
[00:14:54] I understand the benefits of virtual, but it’s kinda sad to think we might start losing too much of physical. You know, like actually getting to see a test carried out, not just getting the results or, getting to do physical modeling, not just computer modeling.
[00:15:06] Mel or Dom: [00:15:06] that I really liked that point. Cause it’s like a rubber band. there’s a potential there that it can get pulled too much and we’ll all jump on the virtual bandwagon too much, and everything will go and we’ll lose that connection.
[00:15:19] And if people start shutting down offices, cause everyone can work virtually you’re going to lose that history, that connection to things. Well, the collaboration too. I think it’s the big thing where I still don’t feel as though you can get the same out of talking to someone over zoom or teams as you can, if you’re sitting in a room with them, with a set of drawings, coming up with ideas, or even working on something and then thinking, Oh, that’s a great idea. I’ll go talk to so and so, and, and then bouncing it further and developing these things. I just think that you’re going to lose all that. If we go to virtual. I worry that people are going to take it and run with it too far when they’re going to lose so much by losing that interaction and that tangible human connection.
[00:16:05]Rosie: [00:16:05] Yeah, it makes me realize that’s half of what I love about my job. it’s not just the technical and the work it’s the team and the collaboration. I guess when we first came to Cooma, there was a bunch of us and, you know, there’s a lot of young kind of adventurous people that said, yes, I’ll move to Cooma. And we were all living in houses together.
[00:16:20] And we’re working really late. And rolling off to the pub at nine o’clock after you finish the report and skiing on the weekends and we built this wonderful team and community and, you couldn’t do that virtually.
[00:16:31] Mel or Dom: [00:16:31] No, I get it. that’s a wonderful example of how if you did make that effort to bring everyone to one place, one location and set up a team, like what you’ve said, it’s going to be so much more powerful.
[00:16:45] So, it will be very interesting to see where the future as a society, how we all react to these changes that are upon us at the moment. And when things go inverted commas, “back to normal”. Then what is it going to look like? so what would you say to people just starting out in engineering?
[00:17:02]Rosie: [00:17:02] congratulations! I think you’re going to love it. I love it. say yes, I think It’s scary at first, but I’ve said yes to a lot opportunities and man I’ve had a great career so far. Giving things a go don’t be afraid of failure. one of my friends, she had a manager and, at her end of year review, the manager said to her, now tell me how you failed, because if you haven’t failed, you haven’t been challenging yourself.
[00:17:25] And I thought that was great.
[00:17:26] Mel or Dom: [00:17:26] That’s hardcore.
[00:17:29]Rosie: [00:17:29] Doesn’t it give you the comfort of, well, then just give it a go, you know, like, like in design consultancy, there is a lot of pressure. we do need to get things right. so it can be scary to take risk and risk getting something wrong. so there’s gotta be balance there.
[00:17:45] Mel or Dom: [00:17:45] That’s very true because I’m one of the worrying things, is if people don’t fail or don’t let themselves fail then, you’ll never have the innovation. Everything just becomes a style and you’re just doing the same thing over and over and over again, if you don’t try some different things and if they don’t work, they don’t work, but at least you sort of had a go.
[00:18:01] Otherwise we’re not going to come up with the new technologies and the new developments that are ultimately going to advance engineering as a whole. it’s like WD40. Yep. We always tell the kids it’s called WD 40. Cause it took them 40 goes to get it right. So yeah, that’s sort of the one
[00:18:18] Rosie: [00:18:18] Good. I didn’t know
[00:18:19] Mel or Dom: [00:18:19] go to them.
[00:18:20] Oh, yeah. See that’s what happens when you go to pub trivia, that’s where we got that very appropriate. Water Dispersment 40 because it took them 40 goes to get it right. So, and that leads perfectly into, is there a piece of engineering that impresses you is WD 40 maybe now.
[00:18:41] Rosie: [00:18:41] from now on, it is, The Snowy Scheme. It is. Yeah. It’s very impressive. I must admit, I didn’t know that much of the details about it when I first came to Cooma and I’ve just been learning more and more and more about it. And working with Snowy Hydro learning about the operation side of it, which as a design engineer, you don’t get a lot of that and it’s a pretty impressive scheme, it’s not just the individual tunnels and the dams. It’s how it works together. It’s very intricate system and very impressive.
[00:19:11]Mel or Dom: [00:19:11] Yep. Particularly when you compare the construction methods back then as to how it’s being constructed now. it’s just amazing what they were able to do and the way that they were able to do it. it’s a phenomenal feat of engineering.
[00:19:25]Rosie: [00:19:25] And they probably didn’t have beautiful down jackets to keep them
[00:19:28]Mel or Dom: [00:19:28] Yeah.
[00:19:29] Rosie: [00:19:29] in the, in the freezing mountainous cold conditions. and all the families were up there too. the row of tents in the snow and the women hanging their washing in the snow.
[00:19:38] Pretty extreme what they went through, I think.
[00:19:39]Mel or Dom: [00:19:39] So, do you have an engineer that you admire?
[00:19:42]Rosie: [00:19:42] not specifically. but I’m very fond of engineers. My brother is an engineer, as I said, my sister-in-law’s an engineer. and I’m dating an engineer home, especially fond of, so
[00:19:51] I think I just like engineers in general, you know?
[00:19:54] Mel or Dom: [00:19:54] I haven’t probably, they have to be family as well. Oh, you pull dad surrounded by all these engineers.
[00:20:04] Rosie: [00:20:04] No, he loves it.
[00:20:05]Mel or Dom: [00:20:05] I love that your family are you favorite engineers.
[00:20:07] So that’s great.
[00:20:08]Rosie: [00:20:08] Yep.
[00:20:08]Mel or Dom: [00:20:08] Well, thank you so much for joining us tonight. It’s been really wonderful talking to you. Thanks for that. It’s been great.
[00:20:14]Rosie: [00:20:14] I really enjoyed it too.
And thank you for listening to Engineering Heroes as we present the new dawn of engineering challenges for Engineers Australia. Your hosts have been Melanie and Dominic De Gioia. You can view this episode’s show notes or learn more about our podcast by visiting our website, www.engineeringheroes.com.au
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